Self Check-Out

Interior Grocery Store Design | Check Stand Ma...

Interior Grocery Store Design | Check Stand Markers | Waikoloa Village Market | KTA Store (Photo credit: I-5 Design & Manufacture)

The first thing I thought years ago when I encountered the very first ‘self check-outs’ at our local grocery store was, “Great. Now not only do I have to pack my own groceries, I have to check them out too.”

You see, as a youth, I worked for five years at the local grocery store. I was a shelf-stocker, check-out girl, grocery packer, carry-out girl, and even worked on occasion wrapping and weighing produce and meat (we didn’t have scales at the checkout, or a conveyor on the counter).

I wouldn’t even think of someone pack their own groceries or carry more than one bag to the car alone. But that was long, long ago darling, and far, far away.

Now, as the mother of a teenager, I seem to be the floor-show on a regular basis, and there’s nothing he likes to see more than his wise, sophisticated mother lose her cool. Tonight when I asked if he wanted to go get some groceries with me, he tagged along, secretly plotting our trip to the self check-out.

There’s nothing that can consistently make me lose my cool more than when I use the self check-out.

Basically, I’m faster than the machine that weighs measures, and makes sure I’m not shop lifting a bazillion extra pounds of food.  This inadvertently causes alarms and multiple calls to the self check-out police. Usually these folks are women putting in part-time retirement hours, or  teenaged boys who don’t need to shave more than twice a month and could give a crap less about who you are, what you came for, or where you’re going next.

The check-out is a measure of our quality of civilization, a short stop in your day to say hello to another human being, perhaps exchange opinions about the quality of whatever you’re purchasing and discussing what might be the topic of the day.

Not any more.

Our interactions are increasingly becoming automated and mind-numbing. Remember going to a bank to transfer funds, cash a cheque, or withdraw cash? Yah, I hardly remember it either.

We no longer discuss or question our purchases, we load the cart and scan ourselves out of the store.

Although the self check out has cost me the human interaction with the cashier and the ‘bag-boy’, it has helped create a bond between my kiddo and I. I’m always goaded into checking out my own groceries, and we usually giggle through the entire process.

It took me two trips over to the-kid-who-could-care-less in order to scan my baguette. One visit from the kid-who-could-care-less because I took the eggs out of my bag to make room for the peaches, and six attempts before the darn thing accepted my new, plastic twenty-dollar bill.

Ah yes. Self check-out, another illusion of freedom.

Self check-out, another opportunity to practice patience, have a giggle and bond with my teenager.

It’s all about perspective.

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Christmas Shopping Etiquette

Today  was the  opening day of a warehouse sale  by ‘invitation only’. Bumper to bumper carts flowed in a steady stream mimicking rush-hour traffic, through aisles packed with Christmas candy, toys, and a plethora of tacky bits and bobs that either lit up, or were rolled in sparkles.

Line-ups snaked down the far aisle, essentially making it impassable for anyone other than those in line to pay.  I chose a shorter line up, and that’s where I got my first taste of the chaos and survival of the fittest mentality that takes over every grocery store and shopping centre from now until the new year. Not 60 seconds in line, I had a cart wedge itself quite firmly in the crack of my bum.

I breathed in, and I breathed out. Ahhhhh, yes. ‘Tis the season.

I have a few suggestions to keep the madness at bay this year as you forage your way through the minefield of holiday shopping. If you area  man, please read to the end where I have a special suggestion just for you.

1) In a check-out line up, keep your cart, or self, at least 30cm away from the person in front of you. Being so close someone can feel your breath on their neck will not speed things up, it will only increase Effexor sales.

2) Retailers need to prioritize their customers. Price matchers who gobble up time need a separate line until the end of January if not forever.

3) Shop in the morning. You got it. It saves loads of time. I’m not a last-minute shopper by any means, other than one more major gift, I’m ready to go, but I still need groceries every week. If stores open early, head out half an hour earlier, pack a cooler in the car to keep things at the right temperature, and you’re all set.

4) Remember the golden rule, be patient and gentle OR just go home.  Breathe, and remember how awful it must be to live as angry and impatient as the woman who has her shopping cart rammed up your butt.

5) Simplify your holiday. I don’t care what so-and-so-thinks. Just do what really brings you and your loved one joy. Go skating, bake cookies, read by the fire, drink wine and make wild passionate love instead of exchanging gifts. Simplifying makes you sexy and lovable.

6) Sing along to the Christmas music in the stores. It’s bound to a) make you more relaxed, and b) keep others at a safe carting distance.

7) Just buy half a dozen extra bottles of your favourite vino, and a few boxes of chocolates. You never know when you’re invited to a last-minute get-together or someone drops in. If you don’t end up giving away the wine or sweets, you’ll always use them later on. What a lovely reward for being prepared!

8) Have your payment ready. Debit? Credit? Store points card? While you’re waiting in line dig through that tickle trunk of a purse you carry and get organized.

9) Drink. Just before you head out into the grand game of getting, take a moment at a restaurant at the mall and have a glass of vino. It will slow you down, make you jolly, and voila – life is good.

10) One of my favourite shopping spots is www.chapters.indigo.ca Make a wish list and encourage your loved ones to do the same. That way you can share lists, and order on-line. I have my purchases delivered to my office, and it cuts down on a huge amount of stress.

If you need a bit more insight into the art of gift-giving, please see “Gifts Reveal the Giver“.

Now, for that little tidbit I promised you wonderful www.andshelaughs.com  men; JEWELRY.   It doesn’t have to be Tiffany, and it couldn’t be more simple. We love you anyway, and we love to sparkle for you.

Happy Christmas!